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Pakistan: Islamic Extremists Charge Christian Woman with Blasphemy

Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, as we see here yet again, are frequently used to threaten and intimidate vulnerable religious minority communities. 

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, see here.

“Islamic Extremists Charge Christian Woman with Blasphemy,” Morning Star News, September 21, 2021:

LAHOREPakistan (Morning Star News) – Blasphemy charges against a Christian preacher in Pakistan were filed not with help from members of the Ahmadiyya religion but only by Islamic extremists, sources said.

A source in the Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Pakistan said the complainant in the case, Shiraz Farooqi, was not a member of the Ahmadiyya, a religion with roots in Islam but regarded as heretical by Muslims. As Ahmadis are often victims of persecution, they would never consider helping Muslims persecute others, he said.

Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, general secretary of the Islamist group that filed blasphemy charges against Christian preacher Shagufta Kiran, confirmed that Farooqi is a member of the group, the Tehreek Tahaffuz-i-Namoos-Risalat (Movement for Protection of Finality of Prophethood).

Ahmed also said the person who supplied screenshots of text messages as evidence was not an Ahmadi. He said admins for the WhatsApp group where Kiran allegedly forwarded the comments invited members of the Tehreek tahaffuz-i-Namoos-Risalat to monitor the social media group’s conversations.

The members of the Islamic extremist group did not engage in the discussions but were apparently present only to gather evidence for a blasphemy case against Kiran.

Ahmed said the group filed the case with Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in September 2020 after receiving the screenshots of text messages by others that were allegedly forwarded by Kiran, a 35-year-old Christian preacher in Islamabad.

A source close to Kiran had claimed that the complainant in the case, Farooqi, was an Ahmadi.

Kiran has been jailed and her family is in hiding after she was charged with insulting Islam and its prophet. She has been in jail since FIA agents raided her house on July 29 in the Iqbal Town area of Islamabad and took her and her sons, 10 and 12 years old, into custody, a source said.

The boys were soon released, said her husband, who was not at home at the time of the raid. Kiran is now in Central Jail Adiala, Rawalpindi, while her sons and husband have gone into hiding due to security threats surrounding the blasphemy charges against Kiran….

At least 35 people in prison in 2020 received death sentences for blasphemy, compared with 29 the previous year, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2020 International Religious Freedom Report.

The U.S. State Department in December re-designated Pakistan among nine other “Countries of Particular Concern” for severe violations of religious freedom. Previously Pakistan had been added to the list on Nov. 28, 2018.

Pakistan ranked fifth on Christian support organization Open Doors 2021 World Watch list of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

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